Voting Booths

It’s a simple truth that “you can’t win ‘em all,” whether it comes to sporting competitions or elections. But you can “lose ‘em all” if you don’t show up to play — and if you don’t vote. And you will “lose ‘em all” if your family, friends and union brothers and sisters don’t vote either.

This was brought home recently at a meeting to discuss the ballot initiative in Missouri to repeal that state’s recently-enacted “right to work for less” law, held at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Some very interesting facts were raised there:

  • In Missouri, 78 percent of all union members are registered to vote. While it should be 100 percent, that’s still a respectable number. However, only 43 percent of union spouses are registered to vote. And we can only imagine what this figure is for their voting age children. That’s a huge problem. Because you can’t vote if you aren’t even registered.
  • In 2016, there were 262,000 union members in Missouri. In the 2016 presidential election, there were a total of 2,827,623 votes counted. If every union member went to the polls, we would have accounted for 9.3 percent of the total vote. If you added spouses and the voting age children of each union family, we would more than double our impact. To be certain, this would not have changed the presidential election results in Missouri. But think of all the state senators and representatives we could have elected, not to mention school board members, judges and aldermen. And imagine the impact we would have on this November’s ballot initiative to repeal the “right to work” law.

Now, none of this is a criticism of the great work our union brothers and sisters are doing in Missouri. Quite the opposite. The state AFL-CIO and its affiliates did a superb job in getting the “right to work” repeal on the 2018 ballot. And their history of electing pro-worker officials like Sen. Claire McCaskill, former Rep. Dick Gephardt and former Attorney General Chris Koster has been tremendous, considering the political climate in Missouri. I am proud of how effective the Missouri labor movement continues to be — year after year.

What this illustrates most clearly is how urgent it is that we look at each one of our own home states and ask what more we can do to make sure our members — and their spouses and adult children — are registered to vote, and that they show up on election day. We know anti-worker forces will be turning out to vote against our interests. And if we don’t participate, we’ll lose. It’s as simple as that.

Let’s always remember:

  • Votes change elections. 
  • Elections have consequences.
  • Workers live with the consequences. 

Daniel E. Stepano
General President